Kelly and Santiago Valenzuela offer a good reductio ad absurdem of the argument that immigration must be limited due to the burdens that illegal immigrants impose on us via the welfare state on Mother of Exiles:
A common argument I hear against immigration is that we don’t need a further drain on the American welfare state (i.e., health care, social security, school system, etc.) As we’ve pointed out before, the problem with the welfare state is the existence of the welfare state, but many like to claim that stopping the flow of immigration into this country will somehow help or solve the problem.
Under that logic, we should make having kids illegal. After all, every child born becomes a burden to the system, another mouth to feed, another brain to educate, another job to eventually fill. Of course this is preposterous, especially coming from a pregnant woman, but hear me out.
There are arguably 10-20 million undocumented immigrants in the country, which have accumulated over the past couple decades. By contrast, 4 million children are born each year in the US. If you want to worry about the welfare state from the standpoint of adding people to the welfare rolls, the second number is way more worrying than the first.
The next time that I hear some conservative trot out that argument, I’m going to propose — with tongue firmly planted in cheek — that a better option would be to force abortion on any pregnant women living below the poverty level. Why not?!? After all, conservatives claim that the government is entitled to massively violate the rights of peaceful, hard-working people seeking a better life for themselves, plus the rights of Americans who wish to employ or trade with them, in order to save the welfare state, which massively violates rights in and of itself. To compel poor women to have abortions would simple be a more effective way to keep those welfare payments manageable. Sure, doing so would violate rights, but clearly, that’s not something of concern to anti-immigration conservatives.
Of course, conservatives would be horrified by that argument — and that’s precisely the point. It’s never okay to violate rights, and it’s particularly vile to systematically violate rights in one way in order to be able to persist in systematically violating rights in another way. (Notably, most conservatives regard abortion as a violation of rights, which is completely wrong. Abortion is a woman’s right, and forcing her to abort is just as much a violation of rights as preventing her from doing so.)
The fact is that the argument about welfare is just a rationalization for conservative opposition to immigration. Perhaps a good reductio is just what they need to break through it.